BRAD SMITH’S “TOOLS AND WEAPONS”
NPR Microsoft President: Democracy Is At Stake. Regulate Big Tech
Microsoft President Brad Smith argues that governments need to put some “guardrails” around engineers and the tech titans they serve. If public leaders don’t, he says, the Internet giants will cannibalize the very fabric of this country. “We need to work together; we need to work with governments to protect, frankly, something that is far more important than technology: democracy. It was here before us. It needs to be here and healthy after us,” Smith says.
Silicon Valley Business Journal Microsoft president wants greater regulation of the tech industry [Paywall]
A report on Brad Smith’s appearance at the Churchill Club and Computer History Museum event in Redwood City, California this past Monday.
ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL
Morning Consult In Washington, Cracking Down on Big Tech Is Popular. In the Rest of U.S., Not So Much
…despite the growing focus on tech in the presidential race, the tech industry is not even in the top 10 on the list of industries that U.S. adults say presidential candidates should scrutinizing, according to a new Morning Consult/Advertising Week poll.
NBC McConnell changes position and backs $250 million for election security
In a surprise development, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced his support on Thursday for additional money to bolster the country’s election system ahead of the 2020 vote, a move that counters his earlier position resisting calls for more funding.
LA Times States try to combat election interference as Washington deadlocks
Even as other nations take aggressive action, some 40 election security bills in Congress have been left to fester. President Trump’s refusal to admit that Russia intervened in the election on his side, coupled with Republican unwillingness to contradict him, has blocked any congressional action. That leaves states to try to figure out piecework solutions — an effort that security experts say is inevitably too limited.
CNN Colorado becomes first state to ban barcodes for counting votes over security concerns
Citing security concerns, Colorado has become the first state to stop counting ballots with printed barcodes. The state’s secretary of state told CNN she felt it was a necessary step to ensure Colorado maintains its position as a national leader on election security. The decision is a further step toward prioritizing the role of human eye, rather than computers to count votes.
Engadget Snapchat releases political ad spending data ahead of 2020 election
Snapchat joins other social media giants in ramping up transparency efforts ahead of the 2020 US presidential election. The company has released a library of all the political and issue-based ad campaigns it has displayed on its app. The downloadable spreadsheets — for both 2018 and 2019 — includes detailed information on who paid for the ads and the demographic they aimed to target.
THIS WEEK IN WASHINGTON
Axios Internet Association pushes Congress to pass national privacy law
The web’s trade organization, the Internet Association, became the latest industry group to urge Congress to pass a national privacy law. Why it matters: Industry organizations, individual companies and consumer groups all say they want privacy legislation. They probably vary in what they would like to see in such legislation, but there could well be room for something that all could get behind. What they’re saying: “Passing comprehensive, federal privacy legislation in the 116th Congress is a top priority for the internet industry,” said IA president & CEO Michael Beckerman. “Internet companies stand ready with the broader business community to support unified, national privacy legislation.”
Roll Call With 5G in mind, senators plan big boost for Pentagon cybersecurity
Lawmakers are proposing to add more than half a billion dollars to the Pentagon’s 2020 budget for cybersecurity measures, in particular asking the department to include security features enabling its weapons and information systems to safely operate on future 5G worldwide wireless networks. Much of that future infrastructure is being developed by China and could become the global standard. Specifically, the Senate Appropriations Committee last week recommended adding $436 million to the Defense Department’s research and development budget for its “5G-XG” program that is intended to develop cybersecurity and other safeguards for future 5G communications.
The Hill Homeland Security chairman calls on new Trump aide to reestablish cyber coordinator
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, is urging President Trump’s new national security adviser Robert O’Brien to prioritize reestablishing the White House cybersecurity coordinator position. The post was eliminated in 2018 following the departure of former Cybersecurity Coordinator Rob Joyce.
Washington Post Facebook, Google and Twitter face fresh heat from Congress on harmful online content
All three tech giants told lawmakers at the Wednesday hearing that they have made progress in combating dangerous posts, photos and videos — improvements they attributed largely to advancements in their artificial-intelligence tools. But some Democrats and Republicans in Congress still contend the companies haven’t acted aggressively enough.
Wall Street Journal Zuckerberg Meets With Trump, Faces Tough Questions From Senators
With his company under a regulatory spotlight, Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg scored a meeting at the White House with President Trump Thursday—but faced a chillier reception from lawmakers on Capitol Hill. … Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, and White House social media director Dan Scavino also joined the meeting, a person familiar with the meeting said.
CNBC Mark Zuckerberg had dinner with senators to discuss looming tech regulations
Topics included “the role and responsibility of social media platforms in protecting our democracy, and what steps Congress should take to defend our elections, protect consumer data, and encourage competition in the social media space,” according to Warner’s spokesperson. Warner, vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has been a leading figure in Congress championing legislation that would regulate the tech industry.
New York Magazine A 21st Century Breakup: Inside the divorce rattling Silicon Valley and Democratic politics
A long look at the changing relationships the Democratic Party and individual politicians and their campaigns have with Silicon Valley and other technology companies, focused specifically on Facebook and broadly on the industry as a whole.
THINK TANK/TECH TRADE ASSOCIATION HIGHLIGHTS
Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF)
- Blog on Democratic presidential campaigns’ statements about tech companies: These ideas—that big tech companies deserve antitrust scrutiny, that we should pump the breaks on data-driven innovation, and that technological advances are bad for workers—are quickly becoming accepted wisdom across the political spectrum, as much among some of the conservative pundits on Fox News as among some of the Democratic hopefuls out on the campaign hustings. But progressives should rethink this strategy, because while bashing big tech may seem like a savvy appeal to popular sentiment, it will lead to bad outcomes for workers, consumers, and other progressive interests. (Innovation Files blog – Think Different: Why Progressives Should Stop Bashing ‘Big Tech’, September 16, 2019)
The Brookings Institution
The Belfer Center
- Blog on Data and Security: In recent years, a number of authoritarian governments have begun taking data very seriously. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping believe that the twenty-first century belongs to nations that control communications platforms, suppress independent media, and dominate the development of data-driven technologies such as artificial intelligence. (Publications – How to Win the Battle Over Data, September 17, 2019)
- Blog on Digital Currency: At the present time, transactions between foreign governments are cleared through and processed in U.S. dollars; therefore, as it stands, the international monetary system could not function without the dollar. This state of affairs may seem undoubtedly beneficial to the United States; however, there are potential negative ramifications to a dollar-dominant system. (Analysis & Opinions – What a Chinese Digital Currency Means for the Dollar’s Future, September 17, 2019)
Note: Voices for Innovation regularly shares a range of opinion articles and press releases from organizations in and publications covering tech policy. These pieces are meant to educate our audience, not to endorse specific platforms or bills.